With the Port of Los Angeles announcing a 24/7 schedule to relieve congestion, President Biden’s meeting with corporations, port officials and labor leaders discussing steps to alleviate bottlenecks and the fast-approaching retail holiday season, all eyes are on the U.S. supply chain and logistics system.
Trucking is an important industry
As consumers, we forget just how much we rely on commercial trucking and tend to take it for granted. Look around your room, your house…everything you see was once on a truck. Within the U.S. logistics system, truck logistics plays a major role as the largest segment of the market – and it’s truly huge.According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the North American freight market was $1.2T in 2019, and trucks accounted for $772B of it. Putting it in perspective, that’s almost 4 percent of the 2019 USA Gross Domestic Product!
According to Armstrong & Associates, the trucking market consists of three major segments that have different needs: Full-Truckload-For-Hire ($365B), Private Fleets ($368B) and Less-Than-Truckload for-hire ($65B). About 35 percent of the Ful Truck Load (FTL) market is “spot”.
No matter how you cut it, trucking logistics isbig - yet has limitations.
To start, the industry is highly fragmented.According to the American Trucking Associations, 91.3 percent of 890,000 for-hire carriers operate 6 or fewer trucks. There are close to 18,000 brokers in the USA, and the number one broker has less than 3 percent market share.The market is also fragmented in terms of technology platforms such as Transportation Management Systems.
Additionally, truck logistics is a very archaic business that has been playing catch-up in terms of digitalization, which also increases the pressure to innovate. Hence, there are multiple massive opportunities to digitize, automate and consolidate the various components of the value-chain.
We at Autotech Ventures (www.autotechvc.com) are an early-stage Silicon Valley venture capital firmfocused on tech start-ups in the global ground transportation industry. As the connective tissue between corporate partners and start-ups, weare uniquely positioned to observe the industry trends through the challenges of our corporate partners,and the solutions founders are working on. Broadly speaking, there are three main themes that we observe in truck logistics: increasing demands, operationalchallenges, and future enablers.
Increasing Demands on Commercial Trucking
First the evolution of retail is applying pressure. The share of online retail within total retail sales continues to increase, putting demands on e-commerce companies for free and flexible shipping ultimately creating cost pressure for transportation companies.